"I KNOW NOTHING!"
Certainly Sgt. Schultz could have appreciated last night's United States Postal Service public meeting on the future Bethesda post office, which will be located... uh, can I get back to you on that?
Long rumored to be a retail post office in the 20816 zip code, and without PO boxes, the project is now even more vague.
Richard Hancock, a USPS real estate specialist who arrived from North Carolina to discuss the planned facility, conceded he was unfamiliar with Bethesda's zip codes and streets. But Hancock assured residents attending the meeting that he will quickly get up to speed.
Hancock said he would know what zip code(s) are under consideration by Monday. As of last night, the project has a one-sentence objective: a 2000 square foot retail post office in Bethesda. He also said there will be PO boxes in the store.
Unfortunately, it sounds as if the mistakes of the new 6900 Wisconsin Avenue post office could be repeated again. Hancock said parking would be ideal, but is not a requirement. Likewise, the disability access could be legally and technically ADA-compliant, but not functionally accessible, which is what happened at 6900 Wisconsin.
BCC Regional Services Center director Ken Hartman said he had sent a letter earlier in the day emphasizing disability access as a priority to the USPS.
Hancock said he knew absolutely nothing about the process and decisions reached in the 6900 project. He insisted things would be better this time.
One resident questioned that. She carried with her last night her notes from the same type of meeting regarding the 2011 search that ended with the selection of 6900.
She said many of the promises made by Hancock were made by USPS at that earlier meeting, and that USPS broke all of them.
Hancock replied that this case will be "different," with him in charge.
Hancock said loading docks and truck access would be essential to efficient operation. Essentially, he was describing the now-demolished Arlington Road post office. I said to him that, if that's so important, why did USPS tear down an existing facility with those features? Economic pressures, he replied.
We really have 3 major needs for postal facilities in Bethesda:
1. Walkable location near the center of town.
2. Surface parking near the door for the disabled and elderly.
3. Drive-up drop boxes.
Hancock says he expects the new post office to open one year from now.